Hellgate 100K++

I have shared bits and pieces of Tommy's running adventures on instagram over the past year, and I've mentioned a few times in Facebook status messages, but I usually stay quiet about it. It's his thing. I've been guilty of taking his limelight before... posting his news to Facebook before he has a chance. So his running journey is something I have left to him to share.

But it's about time I share how stinking PROUD I am of him. He is truly a "beast." When he ran his first half marathon up and down a mountain (Terrapin Half), I just thought... good job! He set a goal and reached it. I had no idea that he did it in a really great time which surprised some of the other runners. So when he decided at the end of that race to run a 50k (34ish miles) one month later... I thought... "well, okay then!"

When he finished his first 50k middle-of-the-pack, my pride for him and understanding of the sport grew a bit. And watching him move to the next race: a full 50 miler just months later, that was unreal. I realized... this guy truly is a beast. He is STRONG to the core: mentally and physically. And I am so, so stinking proud of him.

He has now run 8 ultramarathons, his longest last weekend at 66.6 miles! The will and determination it takes to train for and complete these races is huge. Sometimes I think "I could do that." And then I get this giant dose of reality and realize "I would NOT make it look easy the way he does." He is just incredible...

Here is this past weekend through my eyes. I crewed Tommy during this race (as I do all races) so I had quite a bit of time to sit and wait for him at a few of the aid stations (the experienced crew teams slept during those times!). He was pretty beat up by the time he fnished (well actually, by Aid Station 4... but he plowed through) so that may explain his lack of energy in the photos at the end. :)

Reflecting on my first half marathon

Standing at the corner of my corral, my body was already covered in a thin layer of sweat. Starting by sealing my pores with a thick layer of sunblock (yucky), I had dashed from the porta-potty line to a hotel restaurant bathroom across the street, and back to my corral all within 5 minutes of the start of the race. Tommy and Sunday were directly to my left on the other side of the corral gate. I think I kissed him "bye" maybe 5 times? They counted down to the start time for each corral in front of me… and then they shoved us out into the pack like a herd of cattle. "Off ya go!"

Humbling.

That is my word for this experience.

  • Sweet messages of encouragement from friends and family.
  • Completely losing it at mile 9.
  • Realizing how incredibly inexperienced I am.
  • Not being able to "get in the zone."
  • Starting too fast. No matter how hard I tried not to.
  • My body aching from head to toe by mile 8.
  • Realizing I was in the very last corral. (And not even getting our own starting line countdown.)
  • Hearing the cheerleaders cheering "Let's-go-walkers!!"

All of it.

Completely, undeniably humbling.

Here's the boldface truth: I was absolutely not prepared for this half marathon. I knew I started training too late in the game. But I figured… if I can pull off 10 miles in a training run, then I can finish a half marathon.

I did finish.

In fact, I totally reached all of my written goals. They were:

  1. Learn to love running.
  2. Get to a place where 3-5 miles is a comfortable regular run.
  3. Finish the race.
  4. Stay hydrated.
  5. Have fun.
  6. Don't get sunburnt.
  7. Continue on my journey of getting healthy.

All of those things happened. But, still, I left my pride on the boardwalk in Virginia Beach.

The half marathon was. so. hard.

Something new is brewing in me. In years past I would have left my pride and not thought about it again. I am a quitter. In fact - I did that in 2008 when I participated in my first sprint triathlon. I finished 4th from last and laughed about it. I mean… what was I really going to do about it? Get better? Stronger? Work harder? Pfft. Nope.

Well, that was Liz pre-baby. :)

The Liz now? I'm more pumped than ever. I will get better… I will grow stronger. I will do it again and improve my time. I will learn how to "get in the zone" no matter where I am or who is around me. I will learn what I need to eat during a run and how often to eat it. I will learn how to run with or without music, with or without company, with or without a baby jogging stroller.

Yes, I feel defeated. I feel humbled. I feel worn out. But I am going to pick myself back up and work harder and longer this time.

I've already set my next goal: another half marathon on November 17th. Coming right up.

This isn't my race report... that'll come. This is mostly my race emotional check. Stay tuned for a less emotional report of how it really went down.

(A mini report for those who really want to know: With the humidity the air temp "felt like" 104 degrees, the sun was behind clouds for most of the race (I might have had a heat stroke had it not been) and I finished with a time of 3:28. Also, I walked a lot more than I ever planned or expected I would.)

Getting ready for my first half marathon

virginia beach rock and roll half marathon

T-minus 2 days until race day.

I am sort of freaking out and sort of not. Part of me thinks "Oh, I have another long run this weekend." Then the other part of me thinks "I have to run in the beaming sun for 3 hours and try to stay hydrated and not get sunburnt all at the same time." And then I freak out.

But, look! There's hope!

Virginia Beach Rock n Roll Half Marathon Weather Forecast

Race day is Sunday. Would y'all pray with me that the thunderstorms make their appearance early in the day and we get to run in the rain?! Oh that would be THE BEST!

Then the sun can come out at the end of the race and we can have a lovely weekend on the beach. Look, it's totally possible. If you are a Virginian you know how "Scattered T-Storms" really means that it probably won't storm at all, but if it does it'll last 20 minutes and never come back again.

So, my goal is to get through the race hydrated, not sunburnt, and somewhat enjoy myself while I'm at it. I've enjoyed myself on my training runs so this should (hopefully) be even more fun! There are bands and cheerleaders along the whole course and so many of my friends will be there, too!

I totally plan on taking my phone with me on the run and snapping a few Instagram shots. (I gave up looking like a pro runner when I typed in my estimated finish time at registration.) I will also be writing about my experience when I get home. (Of course!)

Thanks for all of your words of encouragement… I am excited, nervous, scared, having bits of apathy, and most of all looking forward to the feeling of accomplishment when it is all over. :)

See you on the other side!

Let's talk about running

Getting started with running can be extremely intimidating. I have been trying to "get started" for what feels like my entire life. Trying and trying and never having it click for me. Until recently.

MY HISTORY

I have never understood running as an enjoyable activity. Ever. I tried. I remember watching in both awe and confusion as my high school classmates would run in Cross Country meets… or when my husband heads out for a run with eagerness. Seriously? Who WANTS to run? Who WANTS to do that hard stuff?

Not me.

In 2007 I decide to train for a sprint triathlon. I am honestly not even sure where the idea came from, but I figured it was a good goal to set. I was understandably nervous about it (never really been an athlete before), but I thought "I can swim, which gives me a leg up on at least some of the triathletes…" Hah. Ha ha. Hah.

I trained for the triathlon and I got up to running 2 miles without stopping. But running was still miserable (the entire time). I did participate in my first sprint triathlon and I finished. 4th from last. But I finished. And at the finish line I knew exactly where I needed to improve: the run.

So I vowed that I would run the full distance of a 5k, a 10k, and a half marathon before I did my next triathlon. I had to learn to love running.

I tried exactly that. I wrote it on my New Years Resolutions lists. I signed up for races. I printed training plans. I read blogs and books about running. But I dreaded getting out there. It hurt. My body would ache while running… my chest would burn… it was straight up miserable.

Enter Crossfit

When I found Crossfit, I decided running was for the birds. Why put myself through something so miserable if I found something else that finally worked for me? Something I thought was actually fun and gave me great results.

But the need to "get it" was still in me. I was still determined to learn to love running. I wanted to be a part of the running clique! So I made a plan. I decided I'd stick with Crossfit for three months before trying to return to running. In the meantime, I knew Crossfit would help build my core strength which would help make running less miserable for me. (Check out this article about how crossfit can improve your running.)

THE PRESENT

In March I registered for the Virginia Beach Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon to give myself another running goal. Something that required I get out and run. This time, I built in accountability by committing to the race with a group of girls from my home town as well as encouraging some of my closest friends to run with me. And I booked a hotel. And then I went and won a training t-shirt just for registering. I couldn't back out after all that!

After a few months of Crossfit I started forcing myself out to the road. Each time I'd go a little farther before stopping to walk/rest. I went on a few runs with Tommy here and there and the first thing he taught me was how to breathe properly. Then he taught me how to find a resting running pace. And finally, he taught me to just keep running. Slowly but surely, running became the easy part of my Crossfit workouts. After I learned how to find a resting running pace, running became the resting part of my CF workouts. (Shhh don't tell my trainer!)

And two weeks ago it clicked. I went on a run by myself. My goal was to run two miles (of the 5 mile course) without stopping. When I reached the 2 mile mark, I decided to go for 3. Once I made it to 3, I realized that I had the physical ability to run the entire way and I was not feeling miserable. So decided to push it. And the feeling was incredible.

I did it. I CAN do it. And it doesn't have to be torture. Wow. It was truly an unreal experience for me. Years of trying, years of hating running and being miserable on the road... Everything changed in that run and I finally "got it."

And I am addicted.

Sure, I'm running slow. Sure, I only just started. But I am floored that I finally reached my goal to learn to love running.

THE FUTURE

Tommy has always said to me "You don't need a gym or workout videos or anything like that. Just go out and run." And now I get that. Whenever I am in need of something free, quick, and effective, I can just put on some tennis shoes and go out the front door. I'm really grateful to have running in my life now.

I love Crossfit and I will be a CFer for life… but running is something I am excited to now have in my back pocket.

After this half marathon coming up (two weeks away!) I have some big hairy audacious goals (BHAG) that I am a little too scared to mention here just yet. But… they involve running. And I will share when they are officially in the works.

When did running click for you? Did you have a "moment" like I did? I'd love to hear your story, please share in the comments!